Month of Vintage Underwear: Keeping Warm

Winter is coming, and I’m not going to stop wearing skirts.

Not this year. Not this time.

I really like skirts and dresses. I wear pants, and a good pair of jeans is nice, and all, but most of the time I feel the most like myself in skirts and dresses. The problem, of course, is winter. It gets cold, and all of my resolve departs, and back into pants I go.

One of the primary purposes of undergarments is keeping warm. Now with things like central heating and better insulation, and lives where many go from house to car to building without much time spent outside, it’s easy to forget that.

Modern bras and panties are not good at keeping you warm. A long-line bra with a girdle that covers your core is way more effective. Throw on some big tall socks and it’s downright cozy.   Continue reading

Month of Vintage Underwear: Sourcing Reproduction Garments

There’s a lot to be said for a good vintage reproduction.

Reproduction garments are new and shiny, and have never been worn. Their elastic is not 50 years old. They are less delicate. You can pick your size. You can sometimes even choose the color!

And yet, I don’t buy much repro, mostly because of the cost. However, there are some brands I like.

Merchants With Which I Have Experience

Rago Shapewear 

Rago is not technically a reproduction brand–they’ve just been making stuff since 1945. A lot of it is pretty much the same. My (used) Rago cincher-girdle-thing is this one. It does the mid-century job. This is shape wear that does not mess.

Leg Avenue

Your basic stockings. Ubiquitous to costume shops and sex stores. I think they’re overpriced, but it’s convenient if you need to pick up a pair of stockings in real life.

Ebay

Not just the world’s garage sale–there are sellers of reproduction lingerie! Some of my favorites have been:

Europastyle0092–Good quality steel-boned corsets at an unbeatable price.

Handmade Petticoats–I love my petticoat from this seller–a collective of sewing ladies in Wales–and their prices are very reasonable. Goodness knows I don’t want to gather all that organza!

Brands I Don’t Have, but Have Seen Up Close and Covet 

What Katie Did

If I were going to spend significant money on vintage reproduction lingerie, this is where I would. They have a variety of period-appropriate silhouettes in period-appropriate colors and it’s so purty I can hardly stand it. But I refuse to spend $50 on a pair of tap pants. That’s just not going to happen.

Orchard Corset

A wide selection of corset styles, and they’re well made and sturdy. Many colors and fabrics, sometimes good deals to be found in their clearance section. I don’t wear corsets enough to need more than one, at present.

Any good sources I missed?

 

 

Day 12: In Which I Discover a Valuable Resource

You guys. Someone has uploaded all of the images from lots of Sears Christmas catalogs.

"A festive array of panties." Enough said.
“A festive array of panties.” Enough said.

This is fantastic news, because the Sears catalog is an excellent look at what ordinary people were buying, wearing, and using in their respective periods. Sears sold basically everything, so the catalogs are great for researching everything from sweater styles to toy fire engines to rifles. And it’s great for researching underwear.

Since most people didn’t get their pictures taken in their underwear, there are limited pictorial sources for the average woman and her underpinnings. While photos of burlesque performers and pin-up girls in underwear certainly provide us with some information, those are…very curated ensembles. Give me the Sears catalog for the inside track on the American woman and her underwear.

And oh, such underwear have I found.

So much that I’ve created a Pinterest board of it all. Yes, a Pinterest board. Hush, ye naysayers!

Here are a few of the highlights:

The bras of 1944. Note the variety of cup shapes.
The bras of 1944. Note the cup shapes. Hollywood is more va-voom and bulleted, Maiden Form a little more demure.

 

1962 Pettipants.
1962 Pettipants.

 

1952. So many varieties of stocking heel--look closely.
1952. So many varieties of stocking heel–look closely.

I’ll be adding to the board as I work my way through the archives!

 

Day 11: A Vintage Product I Clearly Need

I was paging through the 1948 December edition of Mademoiselle’s Living (“The magazine for  smart young homemakers”) as one is wont to do.

Vintage advertisements are a trip. Sometimes the products are enticing (“Why don’t they make that anymore?”), sometimes baffling (“Why did they ever make that?”). Often they are reeeeeeeeeally racist or sexist.  In my perusal of this smart young homemaker magazine, I found a pretty spectacular example of what I like to call the “You know your husband hates you, right?” school of houseware adverts.

First off, this is an ad for a product I clearly need. It’s a folding rack to dry your stockings on. So handy. It just looks like a decorative plastic seashell (so tasteful) when it’s folded up, and then folds down into a stocking rack. Introducing the “SafTdri Stocking Shell!”

Made in Chicago, IL!
Made in Chicago, IL!

The basic pitch is that it’s a small space solution–quit cluttering up your bathroom with your drying delicates. But the best thing is, it will make your husband stop hating you. Continue reading